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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

BEFORE/AFTER:
How the SL Graphics Update
affected last year's fastest Mac

Posted Thu, August 19th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

We hinted at the gains to be had on "older" Macs when we booted the 2009 iMac Core i7 with the 2010 iMac drive. (See ORANGE bar in that pages graph.) Now that the Snow Leopard Graphics Update (with "...performance fixes for graphics...") is available for all Macs running Snow Leopard, we want to show you the gains to be had with a "moldy old" 8-core Nehalem Mac Pro 2.93GHz sporting a Radeon HD 4870.

We stressed the following games at 2560x1600 with the High Quality settings and 4X Multisampling (Anti-Aliasing). The only exception is X-Plane which was run at 2X AA.

Before Update

After Update

Gains

Portal

32.9 FPS

40.3 FPS

22.5%

Team Fortress 2

33.7 FPS

38.8 FPS

15.1%

ET:QW

53.0 FPS

63.1 FPS

19.1%

CoD4

29.8 FPS

35.0 FPS

17.4%

WoW

61 FPS

67 FPS

9.8%

X-Plane

91 FPS

117 FPS

28.6%

Halo

86.8 FPS

119.3 FPS

37.4%

Doom 3

60.0 FPS

74.1 FPS

23.5%

GOOD NEWS FOR OLD MACS
Those gains are welcome and significant. This is just one example. Your gains main vary depending on the settings you use and the model of Mac you have. For example, our 2009 iMac Core i7 saw its Portal frame rates double.

It's always heart warming to see signficant improvements to "discontinued" hardware through the release of improved system software. These updates are not trivial. They require head scratching, experimentation, code writing, testing, debugging, and cooperation between the engineers at Apple, GPU manufacturers, and game companies. Big mahalo to all involved.

Have any comments or insights of your own? Send them to
, mad scientist.

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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